Effective Meetings – Be Quick on Your Feet

business (10)There are many trends and fads in business.  Some of them take hold and become part of the status quo and others fade away.  One of the current fads, which may develop into a standard operating procedure, is the concept of stand up meetings.  The idea is developing legs (pun intended) and becoming more common.

While it may be seen as innovative in the sit down meeting business culture it’s not a new concept.  Julius Caesar didn’t allow his commanders, or anyone else, to sit during battle planning strategy sessions in the field.  During World War I some military leaders only had stand up meetings.

The current stand up meeting idea may be traced to a group of software developers.  In 2001 they published the Agile approach to software development.  This method divides projects into smaller and more manageable components.  In daily stand up meetings participants quickly update their peers using 3 criteria: what they’ve done since yesterday’s meeting; what they’re doing today; and what obstacles stand in the way of getting the work done.

One of the objectives of this approach was to drastically reduce or eliminate the long-winded, self serving, CYAing and dishonest reports which are presented in many meetings.  Another goal was to get people to participate, collaborate and be more creative – to stop shopping and playing Candy Crush on their devices.

The preliminary field reports, as well as a small group of research studies, show that stand up meetings meet these goals.  In 1998 Allen Bluedorn, a business professor at the University of Missouri, found that standing meetings were about a third shorter than sitting meetings, while the quality of the decision making was about the same.

A 2014 study by Markus Baer and Andrew Knight, Washington University St. Louis, found that people who stand up in a meeting are more creative, collaborative, pay better attention and less likely to be bored.  They open up and contribute to the discussion more than seated people.  Also, participants were less territorial with their own ideas, while being less critical and hostile towards others suggestions.
(Side bar – In addition to the idea of stand up meetings, managers might consider adopting an overall non sedentary workplace strategy.  Research is showing a correlation between sitting too much and poor emotional, physical and mental health.  The sale of standing up desks has increased dramatically as people become more aware of the benefits of standing vs. sitting during the work day.)

Standing up during meetings, and during the work day, makes good sense and is shown to be an effective business practice on a variety of levels.  Optimistically, it’s a fad that’s on its way to being a standard practice.  After all, the idea worked pretty well for Caesar while he was conquering most of Europe.